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Kerr Kriisa returns to Arizona starting lineup for Sweet 16 matchup with Houston

arizona-wildcats-kerr-kriisa-houston-cougars-sprained-ankle-justin-kier-2022-ncaa-tournament-sweet16 Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO—He’s back! In the starting lineup, that is.

Kerr Kriisa will start for top-seeded Arizona in its Sweet 16 matchup with No. 5 Houston, an indication that his sprained right ankle is as healed as it’s going to be until after the season.

Kriisa has not started since the Pac-12 quarterfinals, when he had 10 points in Arizona’s 84-80 win over Stanford. He sprained his ankle in the final minute of that game when he landed on Christian Koloko’s foot, requiring help to get off the court and into the locker room; he left the arena in a wheelchair, with a boot on his right foot.

He missed the next three games, including the first-round NCAA Tournament win over Wright State, but then came off the bench and played 27 minutes against TCU in the second round. Kriisa only had three points, missing nine of 10 3-point attempts, but finished with a plus/minus of 24 in the Wildcats’ 85-80 overtime win.

“My ankle is doing better,” Kriisa said Wednesday. “I’m happy we got through the first two games. It gave me extra days to keep doing rehab, let my ankle become better. I feel like I have benefited a lot from the past two, three days.”

In Kriisa’s absence, Justin Kier started four games and averaged 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists but ran into foul trouble twice. He played only 13 minutes in the Pac-12 title game against UCLA and 14 minutes against TCU.